No, this is not a photo of breastfeeding students in Kenya

A photo claiming that 21 female students at a high school in Kenya's Kisumu county undertaking their national examination are breastfeeding mothers, has been shared widely on social media. A reverse image search revealed that the image is actually of young mothers in Tanzania attending trade courses at a centre for vulnerable women.

One post, from November 4, 2018, attracted over 700 comments and thousands of reactions when shared on this Facebook page that has more than1.9 million followers according to CrowdTangle data.

The image was captioned: "Chabera Mixed Secondary in Kisumu county has broken the records for being the school with the highest number of breastfeeding school girls sitting for 2018 Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) exam. In a class of 57 candidates (30 girls and 27 boys), 21 girls all below 19 years are breastfeeding. Men including me, are we happy now??"

Screenshot of Facebook post claiming students undertaking national examination are breastfeeding mothers

Richard Chepkawai, an education official in Kenya's Nyanza region, told AFP that the Chabera Mixed Secondary school does not exist in the area. He also added that there is no school with the blue uniforms seen in the photo.

"There have been cases of pregnancy among KCSE candidates, but we do not have such a school in our region. There is also no such school uniform in Nyanza," Chepkawai said.

Official records for Nyanza region report only three cases of student pregnancies among students undertaking national examinations.

“It is impossible to know exactly how many students are pregnant,” Chepkawai conceded, adding that his office receives “daily information from our people on the ground."

According to a reverse image search on Google and Yandex search engines, the photo was first used by CNN in an article highlighting the predicament of pregnant students in Tanzanian schools.

CNN reported that the photo was of young women dressed in uniform taking their children to daycare before attending trade courses at the Faraja Center, a shelter for vulnerable women.

Screenshot of CNN story on the breastfeeding mothers in Tanzania

Teenage pregnancies are common among students in Tanzania. In 2017, President John Magufuli announced that students who give birth will not be allowed back to school.

High schools in Kenya are currently undertaking their national examinations and stories of teenage pregnancy have dominated news reports.

Kenya's education minister Amina Mohammed has expressed concern and called on her ministry to investigate the causes.

Mary Kulundu